This book explores the world of gypsies, scamps and thieves and the offbeat group of Private Investigators who pursue them. Always planning the next con, theft or bunko, a band of gypsies in San Francisco pull off a perfect crime. Using four branches of the same bank, slick tactics and phone banks, a group of gypsies manages to steal 32 cadillacs, all in the same day. Facing a million dollar loss, the bank hires DKA, a local PI firm, to recover the stolen cars. Tipped off that a gang of gypsies was responsible, the DKA operatives, or repomen, start a chase that follows the cars across the US. Using very unconventional methods this quirky band of PIs, who are rejects and misfits, must use their wiles to "outcon the cons." What makes this story really outstanding is the background tale of the gypsy life, description of how the cons are done and the plotting of the PIs to get the cars back. There is lots of action too including breakneck chases and escapes, including one where a DKA agent must leap into a car while his rear is filled with buckshot. My favorite character is Ken Warren, a repoman with such a severe speech impediment that he barely communicates. But with extraordinary skills in hunting down and absconding with cars that no one else can get, he earns the respect of his fellow DKA agents. A fun ride which I highly recommend.
Why Joe Gores isn't a better known author is a complete mystery to me. Ok, Ok, he's won 3 Edgar Awards and all, but still you don't hear his name mentioned too often when asking for recommendations. His DKA Files series are full of action, humour, cons and scams and in short are pure entertainment. Well, no matter, I've discovered him now and I'm here to tell you that the series, and 32 Cadillacs in particular, is one that's not to be missed. For the first time, the DKA Agency is pitted in a head-to-head battle with San Francisco's Gypsy community following a Gypsy scam that had netted a grand total of 31 Cadillacs. This is a once-in-a-lifetime job, recover the 31 Caddys for a nicely negotiated fat fee. But the Gypsies are crafty specialists of the long con and are exceedingly difficult to track down, so the recovery process will require the DKA team to use every resource available as well as every underhanded trick in the book. To give you a head start, I'll introduce you to the central DKA characters. They are, Dan Kearny, Giselle Marc, Patrick O'Bannon, Larry Ballard and Bart Heslip. And two new characters are added to the staff, Trin Morales, a sleazy Latino who failed on his own as a PI, and Ken Warren, the genius carhawk with a killer speech impediment. Both bring tremendous dimension and entertainment to the DKA team. But the real stars of the book are the Gypsies, colourful in character as well as in their various ingenious scams. Although they're such big thieves that they'd make a kleptomaniac look like a saint, you can't help but like them and hope that every now and then they'll catch a break. Joe Gores is an author who has walked the walk, having been an agent in the real life DKA Agency. His first-hand knowledge and experience is apparent as his agents work through their cases. Rumour has it that the Larry Ballard could very well be modelled on Gores himself. As a final word, if there are any Donald Westlake fans out there who have read and enjoyed his Dortmunder book Drowned Hopes, I would urge you to read this one too with a brilliant crossover of storylines. This book was an absolute pleasure to read and, I know it's a much-overused catch phrase but I would term it a "must read book".